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Timber touted as building block of the future

by Neil Sharma on 28 Feb 2019

The cement sector is the second-largest industrial emitter of carbon dioxide, according to the International Energy Agency, and given the building boom that’s gripped the country’s largest cities, it is unlikely Canada will reduce emissions below 2030 targets.

However, there could be a solution.
Mass Timber technology is being touted as a solution that will reduce carbon emissions and save consumers money. According to Eric Andreasen, vice president of Adera Development, which has been building exclusively with wood for 50 years in Metro Vancouver, there are several benefits to constructing buildings with wood instead of concrete.

“The homes are quieter than concrete and the homes are as solid as concrete homes, but they have better performance,” he said. “Even when it comes down to fire, our wood doesn’t burn. We perceive smart wood to be the building technology of the future and we can compete with concrete pound for pound, dollar for dollar, and there are a number of benefits for customers.”

Last year, Adera finished Virtuoso, a condo project at the University of British Columbia that uses 1,120 cubic metres of lumber for its cross-laminated timber portion. Every cubic metre sequesters 220 kilos of carbon, which is the equivalent of 245 tonnes of carbon dioxide. For context, the average automobile produces 4.5 tonnes of carbon annually.

“We have been pursuing sustainability and we developed the quiet home in the last couple of years to curb impact and airborne sound transmission between our units, up and down, side to side,” continued Andreasen. “The durability of the mass timber became an effective solution for us on products we’ve been building. We combined it all this year to create smart wood—which is a mix of sustainability, mass timber and the way we build our wood product.”

Mass timber is more expensive to manufacture than concrete but the cost savings come from the short duration spent building the structure, as well as the short distances CLT panels travel.

“From a financial perspective, the savings are there because they’re fast to build, they weigh less, and you reduce the amount of concrete that has to go into the ground—and, of course, there’s less environmental impact on the community,” said Andreasen. “That’s the sustainable part of it all. At the end of the day, it costs less to function on a monthly basis and it costs less to purchase. At the end of the day there’s a value proposition that’s very popular with our product.”


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